Autism Speaks Supporter Receives Student Of The Week Award

(September 29, 2014) — Lohud.com last week highlighted the story of Natalie Spangle, an Autism Speaks supporter and advocate for those with autism. Because of her efforts Natalie was named Lohud’s Student of The Week. Lohud sat down with Natalie to talk to her more about what she is doing today. You can read an excerept of their Q&A below…

Q: You have been a supporter of Autism Speaks since elementary school. What got you interested?

A: At my elementary school, there were some “combined” classes, in which a special ed. class combines with another class for part of the day, and they learn together. I was in those classes a few times, because my teachers said I worked very well with the special ed. students. A few of these students were on the Autism spectrum, so I got to know the disorder in a more intimate way through that program. In addition, my best friend (Dana Herbsman) was very close with her younger cousin, who was Autistic. She was the one who suggested, in fifth grade, that we do something to raise money for Autism Speaks, since they had helped out her cousin so much. I was super interested from the start, and it was really fun to work on a project we were both so passionate about. Dana was actually the one who ended up becoming my Vice President to the Autism Awareness Club we now have at Mamaroneck High School!

Q: You are the founder and president of the MHS Autism Awareness Club. How many members do you have in the club, and what does the club do?

A: We got lots of sign-ups at our school club fair, and I would say currently we have about 15 very dedicated members who regularly come to meetings. It was really crazy to see a fair amount of high-schoolers–who certainly already have very full schedules–dedicate so much time to something I saw as so important. Our club’s official goal is to “raise funds and awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder.” We have done this through bakesales and merchandise sales, and (my personal favorite) celebrating Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd! For that special day, this past year we did a HUGE bakesale with another club at our school called Backyard Sports.

They do great work by helping out with special ed. sports programs for kids. We also encouraged our whole school to wear blue (the official color of Autism awareness), and hung up posters all over the school. The best part, I’d say, was having Autistic kids come up to us at the bakesale station and thank us profusely for the work we were doing, as well as just talking with us about the disorder in general and how much they seemed to like what Autism Speaks was doing. I’ll never forget that.

Read the entire Q&A at Lohud.com here.

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